Most display ads are not seen by anyone on the web, apart from bots, according to new research from Google.
In a new study from the search giant, it found that 56.1% of ads on its various display advertising platforms remain unveiwed.
Google defines an advertisement as having been viewed if 50% of the ad’s pixels are in view for at least one second’s worth of time.
According to Google, the average ad viewability for a publisher is around 50.2%.
“A small number of publishers are serving most of the non-viewable impressions,” the company notes.
The ‘False click’ problem
The internet industry has long been plagued by “false clicks” and “false views” from computer programs whose job it is to create fake Web traffic.
Google’s report is one of the first from a publisher to explicitly admit this.
However, the web giant also describes additional factors that lead to ads getting sold but never seen — where the ad is located on a page, its size and even the industry of the advertiser who bought the ad.
“An ad served doesn’t necessarily equal an ad viewed, and digital advertisers and publishers are catching onto this as the industry shifts toward valuing viewable rather than served impressions,” writes Google executive Sanaz Ahari in the Google report.
Also included is an infographic of Google ad viewability that describes the five factors that most influence the visibility of ads to website visitors.
See the infographic below:
Ad placement is a huge factor
Placement of the ad is really important, and top-level banner ads did not actually perform the best.
The ads that performed the best were located “above the fold,” that is, right at the bottom of the screen as soon as a user lands on the page but has not scrolled down yet.
Vertical ad units (long, thin ads on the side) are viewed most frequently because they stay on the screen longer as the user scrolls down.
Many ads are not seen just because the user does not scroll down the whole page, and the ad is not placed in an ideal spot.
Top industries- leisure sector struggles
Surprisingly, certain industries’ ads get viewed more than other industries’ ads. Reference industry ads were seen the most (51.9 percent seen) while the Hobbies & Leisure industry did most poorly (44.8 percent seen). The reasons for this are not fully explained, but the report notes “content that holds a user’s attention has the highest viewability.”
It seems Google has decided to come clean about to ‘false click’ problem in time to conincide with a new solution. The web giant has released a new premium ad tracking tool called Active View that lets advertisers see how many ads are being seen.